The Writer

I used to be useful but then I came into a good deal of money, so I resigned my job and began to write.

I wrote some essays that I posted on the internet, and some poems that I was embarrassed to show anyone. I wrote some short stories that I submitted to Harpers and New Yorker. Harpers sent a lovely rejection note each time. The New Yorker sent an emailed promise to respond in about three months, but did not.

I reread everything I had written. There were no references to Greek gods, obscure saints, 18th century literature. I tried to start a short story with a quote from Baudelaire only to realize it had nothing to do with the story.

I started being aware of people whom I believed were looking at me, were judging me, were dismissing me as harmless, which is the part that hurt.

So I attended a writers’ workshop in Iowa at great cost. The faculty were published in a minor way, and were full of themselves. They did not socialize with me, although I saw them at coffee or with a glass of scotch with others whose writings were no better than mine although often more arcane.

I began to worry that I was irrelevant. I feared becoming a caricature, an odd man pretending to be a literary person in a vacuum. I had no published works, no editor. I noted that there were many published volumes of letters that writers had exchanged with other writers and artists, full of erudite asides and allusions. I needed to reach out.

Several letters to my favorite modern writers went unanswered although I worked on each letter for days. Embarrassingly, one was returned with a note reminding me that the addressee had passed away several months prior. I thought to send an apology, then realized I could not apologize effectively to the offended party.

I spoke to several publishers of vanity presses and e-books. It struck me as vain and somehow hollow. I wanted to be peer reviewed with favor. I took offense that they wanted me to pay them to make my work available.

I networked with acquaintances who had published books or articles, work-related technical topics, and was given the names of a couple of free-lance editors who would help me for a fee. I met with one who became offended when I asked if any of his clients had been published in fiction, and then he charged me for the first interview.

After two years or so, I noticed that I was not being invited to parties by my neighbors. My wife and I seldom spoke beyond functional interchanges. I lost track of the details of the lives of my grown children, and stopped pestering them to come home for a visit.

I left my money with the investment adviser and went back to work. I had to accept a lesser position but I do not mind. I enjoy the usefulness. I do not write anything at all, any more.